OF THE BOOK OF
I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me.
having spoken largely in the commendation of his church's beauty, vouchsafed his presence to her, and made her drink of his best wine, which causes the lips of those that are asleep to speak: she, after a long silence breaks forth, as an effect of it. And,
I. Claims her interest in him: “I am my beloved's.”
II. Takes notice of his love and affection to her: “and his desire is towards me.”
I. She signifies the satisfaction which she had in her soul, with respect to her being Christ's; which is an affair of the utmost concern; about which saints have often a great many doubts and fears; and a satisfaction in which he is exceeding desirable to them. The church has expressed herself in the same words twice before in this song; see chapter 2:16 and 6:3, therefore less will be required in the explication of them here. However, some things respecting the present frame and disposition of her, the agreement of these words with the context; and what has not been so carefully observed in the former texts, may be taken notice of here. And,
1st, These words may be considered as expressive of that assurance of faith, which the church had of her union to and in Christ; it is as if she should say, After all these expressions of love unto me, and the sweet enjoyment of his presence which he has indulged me with, surely I may venture to say, that I am his; nay, I am sure that I am. From hence may be observed, 1. That the grace of assurance is attainable in this life; instances of which we have, not only in the New Testament saints, such as the apostle Paul, and others, who knew that Christ had loved him, and had given himself for him: was well satisfied both in his ability and fidelity, to keep what he had committed to him against another day, and was persuaded that there never would be a separation from his love; but also in Old Testament saints, as David, who could claim his interest in an everlasting covenant, and was assured of it, even in his dying moments and that in the prospect of the present and future ill state of his family; and Job, who knew that his redeemer lived, and that for him, even when he was under the most severe, afflictive dispensations of providence; as also Habakkuk, who discovered the strength of his faith in God, as his salvation, even when all outward and temporal enjoyments failed him. 2. That there may be a continuation of the exercise of this grace; a person may not only be able to express his satisfaction as to his interest in Christ once, but also to repeat it, as the church does in this song; this is the third time she expresses her assurance in this very form of words, and oftener still in other language: nay, this grace is often exercised by believers, after much sleepiness and drowsiness, many slips and falls, great weakness and infirmities, as may he observed in the church's case frequently in this book; and it is likewise worthy of remark, that those persons who have been the greatest sinners before conversion, and have been suffered to fall the foulest after, have been blessed with this grace of assurance, as David, Paul, Peter, etc., 3. That the exercise of this grace often follows upon the enjoyment of Christ's presence; the church had been lately indulged with it; Christ went up into his palm-tree, the church, filled her breasts, the ordinances, with his grace and presence, and had made her drink of the wine of his consolation, which occasioned these expressions of hers. 4. Her frequent repetition of these words shows, that much of her comfort depended upon the knowledge she had of her interest in Christ; for, though assurance is not of the essence of faith, there may be true saving faith, where there is not the assurance of faith; yet to have it, makes much for the comfort of a believer: for if a glimmering sight of Christ fills the soul with so much joy, what must a full view do? if only an hope of interest gives much satisfaction, certainly a full assurance of it must give much more, 5. It may also be observed, that this grace has no tendency to promote or encourage licentiousness: that is the sealing word of the Spirit, who performs it as the holy spirit of promise; and at the same time he seals, he leaves a greater impress of holiness upon the soul: this does not make persons careless, indolent, and inactive as to duty; but rather excites and stirs them up to be more careful and constant in it; of which here is an instance in the church in the following verses; “Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages,” etc.
2dly, These words may be considered as a modest acknowledgement of the church's, that all she was and had were Christ's; “I am my beloved's,” and it is “by his grace I am what I am:” all that he had said of her in the former verses, she does in this one expression return to him again; she acknowledges that all her beauty, which he had so much commended, was his, and not her own; that she was by nature black, and only comely through that comeliness which he had put upon her; that those several graces, with which she was adorned, and which he might have a regard unto in the several parts described, were his; he was the object, author, owner and preserver of them: that particularly it was owing to grace and strength received from him, that her walk, her outward conversation, was in any measure agreeable, and was so beautiful as he was pleased to declare, in verse 1. That all her fruitfulness, either in the exercise of grace, or in the performance of good works, or in having many souls born again in the midst of her, which may be intended in verse 2 were all from him, and to be referred to his mighty grace and divine blessing: That her ministers and ordinances were of his providing, appointing and filling, expressed by her breasts, in verse 3. That all her strength, which appeared in the exercise of her faith on him, and in the discharge of her duty to God; her light and knowledge in divine truths, the savor and relish which she had of them, together with her zeal, courage and magnanimity to keep and defend them, signified by her neck, her eyes and nose, in verse 4 were all communicated to her from him: as also that he was her only head, both of eminence and influence; and that it was owing to that grace, life, strength and nourishment, which he afforded, that her hair, true believers, grew so well, and appeared so beautiful as they did, in verse 5. Moreover, that she was his palm-tree, which he might go up into, and gather the fruit of, when he pleased; and that it was his grace which caused her to grow so straight and upright, and made her so fruitful as she was, in verses 7-9, wherefore she concludes in this verse, saying, “I am my beloved's;” that is, the glory of all this is to be referred to him, and not to myself.
3dly, These words may also contain in them a voluntary surrender of herself, and all she had, into Christ's hands. This is what he requires of us; “my son,” says he (Prov. 23:26), “give me thine heart:” but this we are unwilling to do, until the day of his power passes upon us; and then we are made willing to give ourselves unto the Lord, and all we have, that we may therewith serve and glorify his name: This the church was enabled to do, knowing that she was not her own, but his; and therefore was desirous to glorify him with her body and spirit, which were his.
4thly, They are likewise expressive of that open profession she made of Christ before others; she was not ashamed to tell whose she was, and to whom she belonged. It is our duty to make a public profession of Christ, as well as to believe in his name; “for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” (Rom. 10:10), a believing in Christ may be sufficient for our everlasting security; but a profession of that is necessary and. requisite to show forth a Redeemer's glory, which we ought to be concerned for; and when we have made a profession of Christ, we ought to hold it fast, without wavering, and adorn it by a suitable conversation. But,
II. The church in these words takes notice also of the love and affection of Christ towards her; and his desire is towards me. The words may be rendered, thus, because or seeing his desire is towards me; so Junius reads them; and then they may be considered as a reason of the former expression of her faith in Christ, acknowledgment of his grace, and profession of his name; for Christ's love manifested to us, is a considerable evidence of our interest in him, and in his everlasting love; this will make us free and ready to acknowledge that we have nothing but what we have received from him; it is this which fills us with love to him, constrains us to obey him, encourages us to make a profession of him, and to maintain it, notwithstanding all discouragements thrown in our way, or opposition made against us. But let us consider a little the import of this phrase, and what is intended by it: it seems to be very much like, and perhaps the allusion is unto those words, in Genesis 3:16, “and thy desire shall be to thy husband;” but here the husband's desire is towards his wife; so that what was inflicted by way of punishment upon the woman, being inverted, is a blessing of grace unto the church. The phrase may be expressive,
1st, Of Christ's love and affection to his church: his desire was towards her, 1. From everlasting; for having loved her, he desired her of his Father for his spouse and bride, which was granted him; for God gave him his heart's desire in this thing, and did not withhold the request of his lips from him. 2. His desire was towards her in time, that he might procure everlasting salvation for her; as an instance of his love, he undertook it; in the fullness of time assumed her nature, in order to effect it; was straitened in his mind, and as it were uneasy until it was accomplished; so great was his desire after it: hence he expressed himself thus to his disciples, at his eating the last passover, “With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer,” (Luke 22:15), the chief reason was, because the time was at hand, the hour was now come, so much desired by him, when he should give the strongest evidence of his love to his church, in laying down his life for her. 3. His desire is towards his people, even before conversion, though dead in trespasses and sins; that they may be quickened, called by grace, and brought to the knowledge of himself; and, notwithstanding all their backslidings and revoltings from him, still his desire is after them, to do them good; neither will he turn away from them, but rests in his love towards them. 4. His desire is continually after his peoples company, grace and beauty; they are the excellent in the earth; in whom is all his delight; he is well pleased with that beauty which he himself has put upon them, and his desire is after it; “so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty,” (Ps. 45:11), he is ravished with those graces which he has implanted in them; he is exceedingly delighted with their looks and words; and therefore says (Song 2:14), “let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely:” nay, he has signified his desire that his church and people may be the place of his residence and habitation, and that for ever; “for the Lord hath chosen Zion, he hath desired it for his habitation,” (Ps. 132:13, 14). Hence, 5. He will not be satisfied until he has the whole church with him in glory; this was the joy that was set before him in his sufferings; what he is now making preparation for in heaven, and what he is continually pleading for, as being exceedingly desirous of, saying (John 17:24), “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, may be with me, where I am, that they may behold nay glory.” Thus Christ's desire is towards his church.
2dly, This phrase may be expressive of that power which the church has over Christ, so that she can have any thing of him, when she pleases; he is so kind and indulgent an husband, that he will not deny his spouse any thing that may be for her good and his glory. The strength of faith in prayer is very great; an instance of this we have in Jacob, who had power with God, and prevailed: and it is upon this score that God said to Moses, let me alone; knowing what interest Moses had in him, and how prevalent his petitions w ere with him; so that speaking after the manner of men, he could scarcely deny him any thing; “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” (James 5:16).
3dly, The import of this expression may be, that Christ was her husband; “I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me;” that is, he is my husband, I am his, and he is mine: so the wife is called “the desire of the eyes,” (Ezek. 24:16, 18), and this was a very great blessing that she was favored with, and an unspeakable comfort, that she could claim her interest in Christ, under this sweet and endearing character and relation. Or,
4thly, It may be expressive of the whole care and concern of Christ for her, as her husband; who as such bears and sympathizes with her under all her weaknesses and infirmities; protects from all dangers and enemies; and provides every thing for her, as food and raiment, grace and glory, all things necessary for her, both for time and eternity; whatever may conduce to her comfort here, and eternal happiness hereafter as a loving husband, he has given himself for her, rescued her from slavery and thraldom, procured an inheritance for her; and is now preparing that for her, and her for that, and will ere long put her into the possession of it. All which manifestly make appear, how much his desire has been and is towards her; which she having had some knowledge and experience of, ventures to invite him, as in the following words, saying.
 Vid, Fuller. Miscell. Sacra, 1. 3. c. 15.